Born and raised in Shanghai, author Margaret Chan Wang was the youngest daughter of Chi-Lan Chan, a businessman, who co-edited the first English-Chinese standard dictionary and later became managing director of the first Chinese language newspaper in Hong Kong, then a British colony. The Chans entertained frequently, often inviting guests from Britain and elsewhere in Europe, and this early exposure to the language and customs of the West enabled Margaret and her siblings to become proficient in both Chinese and English and to appreciate the cultural differences between East and West at a young age. After college, Margaret and her husband moved to the United States, where she became a housewife and mother while he enjoyed a lengthy career as an engineer.
Following retirement, the couple relocated to an active senior community, where Margaret joined the author’s club. This was the perfect opportunity for her to develop her lifelong interest in creative writing. At first, she wrote short stories, poems, and essays, but later she was encouraged to write a full-length book about Chinese history and culture. Her efforts resulted in “Of Noble Heritage,” a fictionalized but generally accurate account of life in imperial China. The book was almost done and in the process of final edits when Margaret passed away after a brief illness. After Margaret’s death, her daughter took on the project of finishing the edits and arranging for the book’s publication.
“It is 1896 in China, once a strong and independent nation with a proud heritage but now a victim of inept government and foreign imperialism,” wrote Wang. “The gap between the rich and the poor is growing. While the wealthy enjoy the trappings of a comfortable life, less fortunate families (comprising a majority of the population) struggle to survive, often resorting to the practice of selling their young daughters into bondage to avoid starvation. Not surprisingly, calls for social reform and civil rebellion are getting louder.
“Zilan, a young wife and mother in a privileged mandarin family, faces the uncertainty with an outward calm that belies inner conflict. She is torn between her desire to honor the ancient Confucian principles at the core of China’s male-dominated society, on one hand, and her concern for the lowly status of females, especially those born into poverty, on the other. In her own quiet way and with initiative that is rare for a woman of her era, she sets out to improve the lot of those around her. She coaches her bonded maids to become self-sufficient and tries to find a way to restore their freedom. Through impromptu history lessons, Zilan helps her young son, Mengfei, understand how the past plays a vital role in shaping the present.”
Wang continued, “In her heart, Zilan is a feminist despite being raised in an environment in which women are taught to be subservient. From her lessons with Mengfei, which provide glimpses into Chinese tradition and culture, we can appreciate her wisdom in combining education with independent thinking at a time when women were not expected to be wise or educated or to think independently.”
Published by Page Publishing, Margaret Wang’s stunning tale is a powerful novel partly inspired by and draws from the personal experiences and recollections of women who actually lived in China at that time, as told to the author when she was a young girl. Expertly paced and poignant, this character-driven story provides readers with a window into what life was like in China, as seen through Zilan’s eyes, during the waning years of the Qing dynasty.
Readers who wish to experience this enlightening work can purchase “Of Noble Heritage” online at the Apple iTunes Store, Amazon, Google Play, or Barnes and Noble.
For additional information or media inquiries, contact Page Publishing at 866-315-2708.
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